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Employed in a job she never knew existed

Before Covid-19 hit, Emma Boynton studied Japanese at university and worked as a cleaner and in a packhouse.

Now she flies drones.

“I was made redundant from my last job due to Covid-19, so I was applying for jobs and the MSD (Ministry of Social Development) were helping me to find work,” said the 24-year-old.

MSD suggested she apply for a surveying job with a Gisborne arborist company.

“It sounded interesting and I thought it was something I could maybe make a career out of. I also liked that it's different.”

Emma is part of the $23.755 million redeployment programme set up in response to the impact of Covid-19 to provide work and training for up to 200 people across five projects in Tairawhiti.

It is funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, administered by the Provincial Development Unit and managed by Gisborne District Council.

All those on the programme come through the MSD, with the goal of ensuring participants not only find work but also pick up new skills, qualifications and the opportunity of meaningful, long-term employment.

One of the projects is a collaboration between Eastland Group, regional lines company Eastland Network and several local tree contractors.

That's where Emma's new surveying job comes in — a job she says she never knew existed.

Advanced Tree Solutions (ATS) nowadays uses a drone as a method to measure the distance between power lines and trees.

“I work as a team with another girl who has come through the redeployment programme,” Emma said.

“When we first started we were trained and taught how to do our jobs.

“We have our own gear — our maps and a special GPS (global positioning system) that has power pole numbers on it.

“We do our surveying either by drone, by car or on foot. We only use the drone to get to areas where we can't walk or drive to, but we have to be very aware of privacy requirements.

“It's been really cool to learn how to fly a drone. I didn't know this would be something I would get to do in this role.”

As well as learning to operate the drone, Emma has been out with the ATS crews to see all the different types of work they do.

“I wanted to try different things so I could learn new skills and gain new experience to help boost me and my resume. I ask a lot of questions to pick up as much information as I can.

“The team at ATS are really good to work with. When you have a good boss and friendly people it makes it so much easier to get up and go to work early in the morning.”

As well as gaining valuable work experience, Emma has been adding to her qualifications. She has her GrowSafe certificate, has updated her first aid certificate and is working towards her chainsaw ticket and restricted driver's licence.

Emma is loving her new job so much she can see an ongoing career for herself in the industry.

“I'm just really grateful for the opportunity I've been given and I'd like to stay working here after my six months programme is finished. I've started going to the gym to get fitter. My goal is to train as a climber with ATS and then become qualified. And I want to work towards buying a house in the next three years.”

Eastland Group business development general manager Alice Pettigrew said Emma was a great example of the success of the redeployment programme.

“Eastland Group's project has seen 25 people receive six-month work placements with local arborists.

“We are now looking at opportunities to support them into long-term employment.”

HIGH-FLYER: Emma Boynton,with Karauna Waititi from Advanced Tree Solutions, learning how to fly a drone Picture by Strike Photography